Yappy Hour, Reigning Dogs

dateline: Jackson Center, Ohio

Alumapalooza III

A new feature in the cascade of events for this unique rally; an hour for dogs to share their owners with other owners.  The owners, far more discreet than their beloved pets, are content to ‘talk’ without resorting to the mandatory sniffing of each other’s private parts.  Maybe next year.


Dozens of high-end breeds; dachshund, weimaraner, beagles, greyhounds, Scotties…..and a crowd favorite, the bulldog on the skateboard.  Boogeying down Bambi Lane.


Some fast, aloof, intelligent, powerful, miniscule, or alert, and others, rescue dogs like our Jack, the result of hasty, unplanned dog sex.  A dog’s eye view of the party.


Jack is considering accepting donations for his favorite cause, a national system to counter the dreaded wave of kanine kidnappings (think amber alert).  Seen below maintaining a vigil by his box trailer, to discuss strategy with other potential victims.


Among the dogs, few disappointments other than the absence of the corgi, favorite of writers, Graham Mackintosh (Pili) and A/S Life’s own Bill Doyle (Tasha).  However an unconfirmed rumor, started by a Welsh Terrier of ill repute, speculated that the lady below was planning to attend Alumapalooza IV in 2013.


Also, missing, not a single Lassie, as seen in this low-res file photo from 1955.


Lynn and I plan to adopt a collie puppy this year, a female, and we’ll name her Melon.  Like the movies of her forbearers, she will become melon collie and that will be sad.



Schmoozing Rhubarb

Surrounded by bluffs more than one hundred feet high, carved by the Root River during the pleistocene era, lies a valley too beautiful to describe.  The centerpiece, a bucolic small town of less than 800 people, Lanesboro, MN, by state proclamation, has been declared the Rhubarb Capital of Minnesota.  The first Saturday in June is the designated date for the only festival devoted exclusively to a rhizome (an androgynous plant that can be either a fruit or a vegetable, but not once mistaken for a cross dressing pumpkin).

So Lynn, Jack, and I leave Rochester for the 40 mile trek, passing first through Chatfield, MN, home to Billy Funk Trucking.

Try saying that fast, three times in a row

Lanesboro has been featured in, get this, lineup:

  • Great American Main Street Award, 1998
  • 50 Best Outdoor Sports Towns; Sports Afield
  • 20 Best Dream Towns in America; Outside Magazine
  • The fluff Sunday newspaper supplement, Parade Magazine

AND, drum roll, Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

In spite of that we were not deterred and forged ahead to be welcomed by:


Vibrant downtown unchanged for 50 years

The festival is held in Sylvan Park, a pristine setting with premier people gazing, while…

in pink socks….

Courtesy of an extraordinary a capella vocal quartet, The Rhubarb Sisters, let’s bring them on…

Don’t let their upscale dress fool you, the sisters have TALENT

Followed by their understudies below, the Rhubarb community chorus, who balance lesser talent with an overdose of enthusiasm

I was particularly enthralled with the beautiful lady behind the “H” in rhubarb.  Not mentioned in the town bio, in ages 18 and over, women outnumber men, 100 to 85.1.  You have to love those odds, I’d like to be 0.1 for a day.

There are the young,

The old,

the oldest

and in-between the buns

Makes biking to the United Methodist Church an attractive option

The outrageous

and the mundane

A mime clown juggling  rhubarb sticks on fire

Even Jack served as a judge, in an olympic forum contest among youngsters, as to who grew the largest leaf and stalk combined.  The winner was determined by accurate measurements and capricious, arbitrary, canine oversight.

Hmmm…lemme see now, anybody wanna bribe the judge with a rhubarb pie dog treat?

We ended the day at the Peddle Pusher restaurant (which had been the local drugstore through 1985) with the daily special, Chicken rhubarb salad on a croissant (with walnuts, diced fresh onion, and bits of apple).  Delicious + a pie to go from the Lutheran Ladies and a torte from The Sons of Norway.

Lynn held her own against a Texas Star quilt

My favorite, “old blue eyes” with or without a nasal cannula accessory

It really doesn’t get any better, anywhere, than Lanesboro on a June in Saturday and sharing it is a pleasure.  Hard to recall a day where I’ve been more proud to be a citizen of this country.

On the way out I find that we are being stalked by three very hot adolescent women, in the rear view mirror.

On County Road 8, headed westward, the refrain from the Rhubarb National Anthem (sung to America the Beautiful) rings between my ears and my heart:

Oh beautiful for rhubarb stalks

For red and green and pink (and pink)

For lovely green expansive leaves

Above the kitchen sink

Oh rhubarb plant, oh rhubarb plant

God shed His grace on thee (on thee)

And crown thy good–and darling–

Would you share your recipe ?

Keep on trunking.

© 2004-2011 Church Street Publishing, Inc. “Airstream” used with permission.

Binge Driving

…can be more intoxicating than a collegiate drinking marathon.  We’ve all done it.  You start early, determined to travel from point A to destination B in a prescribed time frame; in this instance 2000 miles in less than four full days. Towing a trailer is a minus, inhibiting speed for safety, but a plus when reducing chances for DWI (driving while impaired), as the sensory feel of four tons tethered to your backside is an effective antidote to a road burn induced coma.

Jack and I are traveling a capella in a Chevy truck with a season full of personal ‘stuff’, headed for the Mexican border. 


Farewell from a forlorn excella, now under 36″ of snow 

No trailer this winter, the planned route is influenced by the weather channel.  The tedium begins less than two hundred miles out of the gate, on the flatland of central Illinois.  A welcome weather anomaly brightens an otherwise innocuous ride on Interstate-55.  It is a rare sub-freezing morning fog, only 24° F and the horizon, if it exists at all, has become a seamless pearl white mist.  Red tail hawks seek the highest point on iced trees, and in the translucent distance, the faint outline of blue ceramic Butler silos punctuate successful farms.  You can find red, white, and blue, nearly everywhere, if you take time to look, a grateful reminder that a dull driving day in the USA is an elixir for the soul….where else would I rather be ?

Nearing Springfield, IL, home to the nexus of Lincoln heritage, I’m passed by a Subaru Outback.  Both driver and passenger are 20 something males, and the SUV sports a Hawaii license plate.  Really.  In the middle of the midwestern prairie, from the 50th state, birthplace of a current president working hard to emulate Honest Abe. The chance glimpse of this plate triggers an hour of random thought, and 65 miles of boredom slips through the tread of Goodyear Marathons.

A lunch of rainier cherries, salted almonds and diet Squirt means no stopping, no high fats to precipitate the bobble-head doll syndrome, every four hours these blues brothers only stop to pee and fuel up with $3.59/gal diesel.


Jack, proudly posing in his newly earned vest 

The interstate has become the skeletal system of the country__passage through the arteries, the metaphorical blood of goods, people, trucks and cars___allowing us (as an anonymous writer once remarked) to travel coast-to-coast without seeing anything.The capillaries, the blue highways, are the real exchange of O² and CO², the lifeline for the weary traveler.  Jack and I will soon find our favored westerly path, US 54, bucking the headwind across the great plains.  

Look out Linda, here we come.


Prairie Folk Art; “Linda”, as elusive as “Mustang Sally”